When do we use the perfect infinitive

The conjugation of the modal verbs: perfect

Modal verb with main verb

In standard language, the perfect tense in modal verbs is formed with the present tense of the auxiliary verb haben, the infinitive of the modal verb and the infinitive of the main verb ("twice infinitive").

Perfectly active with modal verb = present tense of haben + infinitive (main verb) + infinitive (modal verb)

Examples: present tense - perfect
I have to work. - i had to work.
My brother is good at playing football. - My brother Has good football can play.
We want to go to Australia in the summer. - We to have to Australia in the summer want to travel.
I want to go to Italy. - i have to Italy Want to drive.*

* The modal verb want is a polite variant of want and exists only in the present tense. In all other times, also in the perfect tense, becomes want by want replaced.

All forms are:

Example: perfect of have to
I had to work
You had to work
He had to work
We had to work
You had to work
You had to work

Colloquial variant

However, in the spoken language you can also hear the variant with the past participle of the modal verb.

Perfect with modal verb (variant) = present tense of haben + infinitive (full verb) + participle II (modal verb)

Examples: present tense - perfect (colloquial)
I have to work. - i had to work.

Modal verb without main verb

If the modal verb is used without the main verb, the participle II of the modal verb is also used in the standard language.

Perfect with modal verb (without main verb) = to have + participle II (modal verb)

Example: present tense - perfect
Anna has to see a doctor. - Anna Has to the doctor had to.
Anna wanted to see her sister. - Anna Has to her sister wanted.

All forms are then:

Example: perfect of have to
I had to
You had to
He had to
We had to
You had to
You had to

The participle II of the modal verbs

The participle II of the modal verbs is formed with ge and the regular ending -t of the participles. However, the modal verbs must and can lose the umlaut.

All participles II of the modal verbs are:

Participle II of the modal verbs:
must - must
can - skillfully
want - wanted
may - may
should - should

Download: Table - Modal Verbs - Perfect

Back to the page: grammar tables and overviews
Back to the chapter: The modal verbs
To the table of contents - German Grammar 2.0